TCDD Extra: December 2023

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Welcome to the latest edition of TCDD Extra — a newsletter published every two months with recent disability news, resources, training, advocacy opportunities, and other information.

In this edition:

  • webinar on diagnostic evaluation for autism;
  • new TCDD advocacy training sprints;
  • reports on disaster resilience and mental health care;
  • and more.


Autism Awareness Webinar on Diagnostic Evaluation
Parents, family members, and people who work with children are invited to attend a free webinar, titled “Autism Awareness and How to Obtain a Diagnostic Evaluation,” from 10-11 a.m. CT on Jan. 11, 2024. The event is hosted by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Office of Disability Prevention for Children, the HHSC Children’s Autism Program, and ACES 2020. Please register ahead of time to attend.

The webinar will include an overview of the Children’s Autism Program and a discussion on developmental milestones, accessing diagnostic evaluations, and the importance of early intervention and available support services. Presenters will also provide information on free autism screenings and next-step instructions.

ASL interpreters will be provided during the webinar. If you have any questions, email Kynthia Brooks at HHSC or call 512-865-9569.

Training Opportunities

Training Sprints Program for Disability Advocates
TCDD’s new training “sprints” program offers opportunities for people wanting to strengthen their advocacy skills in only four weeks. Each week of the virtual training series includes two hours of live sessions and two to three hours of self-paced modules, homework, and discussion board posts. The inaugural series will begin Jan. 22, 2024, and will cover public speaking, audience engagement, community leadership development, and more. To learn more and pre-register, visit the Training Sprints webpage.

Advocacy Opportunities

2023 National Survey on Health and Disability
The University of Kansas Institute for Health and Disability Policy Studies is seeking adults with disabilities to complete the 2023 National Survey on Health and Disability, which aims to inform decision-makers on important disability issues. The survey is an opportunity to share your experiences on a variety of issues, including health care, COVID-19, insurance coverage, housing, transportation, employment, education, and more. The survey is open to Americans who are at least 18 years old and have any disability or health condition.

For more information, call 855-556-6328 (voice/TTY) or email the health survey coordinators. Participants may complete the survey by phone. This initiative is funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living’s National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.


“There is a silent epidemic about individuals with disabilities not being able to speak out for themselves (and) not being able to advocate for themselves and their sexuality.” — Alesha Burks, director of the West Central Texas Aging and Disability Resource Center, in a local news interview during the Walk Against the Silence event last month in Abilene. 

The Walk Against the Silence is part of a TCDD-funded project to create a sustainable sexual assault prevention model for people with developmental disabilities (DD) that enhances self-advocacy and leads to an enriched quality of life. The project includes DD-informed training on healthy relationships and addresses barriers to preventing sexual assault while providing support to victims and survivors.

Disability Information

Disaster Resilience Survey of Texans with Disabilities
Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) recently posted results of its 2023 Disaster Resilience Survey of Texans with Disabilities, which seeks to better understand the emergency preparedness of people with disabilities across the state. In the survey, DRTx found that the majority of respondents did not feel prepared to handle disasters or emergencies, particularly when it came to preparation measures specific to people with disabilities. The survey also noted preparedness gaps at the local level and asked Texans with disabilities about the disaster events they are most concerned about. Visit the DRTx website to learn more about the survey results.

Along with the survey, DRTx has disaster resilience resources, handouts, videos, and other information. You can also find tools and information on our emergency preparedness webpage.

HHSC Report Covers Rural Mental Health Needs
HHSC recently published the 2023 All Texas Access Report (PDF, 160 pages, 2.8 MB), which highlights initiatives that address mental health needs of Texans in rural communities, including key efforts on:

  • community engagement around access to routine mental health care;
  • extending the mental health workforce through peer support; and
  • jail diversion strategies.

For more information, visit the Rural Mental Health webpage or email the Rural Mental Health team.

Disability Awareness

Recognizing National Family Caregivers Month
Every November, National Family Caregivers Month celebrates family caregivers, including those who care for people with DD. This year, TCDD recognized National Family Caregivers Month by sharing resources to support family caregivers and calling attention to barriers they face. We also highlighted TCDD-funded initiatives that address the needs of family caregivers. We invite you to use and share this information all year-round to help us improve the lives of family caregivers and their loved ones across Texas.

Celebrating 60 Years of Progress with the DD Act
This year, TCDD celebrated a significant milestone in the journey toward inclusivity and equal opportunities for people with DD — the 60th anniversary of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act). The DD Act was a response to the prevailing challenges faced by people with DD and their families and aimed to provide a framework for better care, services, and opportunities. This landmark legislation has paved the way for significant advancements in the lives of countless individuals, transforming the landscape of care, support, and rights for those with DD.



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